IMPORTANT NOTICE: These “Fast Facts” are presented from a fister’s point of view only. They are not intended to be medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a competent medical doctor. Please use these facts and the links to other resources as a springboard for your own research into these important issues. The information that follows is not at all inclusive, or the only viewpoint available. You should familiarize yourself with the risks associated with these conditions, means of transmission, and methods for prevention and make your own informed decisions regarding acceptable means for protecting yourself and your health.

MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)

You’ve heard a lot about this skin eating virus in the news lately, and you should be concerned about it as well, especially if you are having sex in public where many people are using the same equipment. My sources say that cleaning equipment with a 10% bleach solution between uses greatly decreases risk of transmission.

What are the symptoms of a MRSA skin infection?
Signs of a skin infection include redness, warmth, swelling, and tenderness of the skin. Some people with MRSA might think they have a “spider bite.” For most people, it isn’t serious. Others may develop boils, blisters, pustules or abscesses. The infection can cause a fever and/or chills. People with fever and/or chills should see their health-care provider.

How is MRSA spread?
Staph, including CA-MRSA, is primarily spread when someone’s skin comes in contact with the skin of someone who has Staph. That sort of skin-to-skin contact can happen when someone is playing sports, having sex, or doing other things. It can only be spread with skin-skin contact or skin-contaminated object contact.

What should I do if I think I have an active MRSA infection?
If you notice any of the symptoms of a Staph infection, you should contact your health-care provider. You may need antibiotics or other treatment. Your healthcare provider will discuss treatment with you. Do not try to treat yourself. Whenever antibiotics are prescribed, take all of the medication even if you think the infection has gone away. This will help prevent the Staph germ from becoming more resistant to antibiotics.

Is MRSA a sexually transmitted disease (STD)?
Data do not exist to determine whether sex itself – anal, oral, or vaginal intercourse – spreads MRSA. But we do know that skin-to-skin contact, which occurs during sex, can spread MRSA.

How do I protect myself from getting and spreading MRSA?
Practice good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer instead.
  • Showering or washing after contact sports, gym use, or sex may reduce the risk of skin-to-skin transmission.
  • Practice safer sex. Always use gloves and condoms.
  •  Thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and surfaces after each use.
  • Keep wounds covered with clean, dry bandages.
  • Take antibiotics only as prescribed by a healthcare provider
  • Do not share personal items such as used towels, clothes, razors, or anything else that makes contact with skin.
  • Use lotion to keep skin moist; damaged skin can provide an opening for infection.
  • Clean and disinfect items that are shared before and after every use (athletic/workout equipment, slings, benches, tables, etc.) with disinfectant or detergent. A list of products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency that are effective against MRSA is available HERE. These products should be used only as directed.
  • NOTE: At all Hell Hole, Up Yours, and Fist Fest events, a spray bottle of Play Spray™ (a quarternary disinfectant spray) is provided at every station, which should be applied before and after every session. Click to learn more about and to purchase your very own bottle of Play Spray™.

Visit THIS SITE, sponsored by the San Francisco County Health Department City Clinic and the Stop AIDS Project to learn more.